Sunday, March 05, 2006

200 Years Ago Today...

Don’t call the blogging police. You have not been invaded by some stranger wandering into SEx. Though you may not know my name now, I’m hoping time and a proper introduction will change that.

My name is Vivien Dean, and I’m brand spanking new to Liquid Silver Books. My novel, “Under a Rogue Moon,” is on the Coming Soon list for LSB, but I’m still in the editing stage, which means I have no idea beyond vague notions of “this spring” when it’s coming out. :) However, I didn’t want to continue lurking in the background, so when an opening came up to blog, I jumped up and volunteered.

OK, it was more of a little hop, but you get the idea. It’s time for me to stop sitting in the dugout, and step up to the plate. :)

Today, I’m celebrating the birthday of someone who marked the world of romance in magical ways. Born 200 years ago in England, she gave the public a wealth of beautiful poetry that is still shared among lovers, as well as lived her own real life love story. Who am I talking about? None other than Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Probably one of the most famous lines of love poetry ever written. Who hasn’t heard of it? It’s riffed in every modern medium possible, from Roger Rabbit writing love letters to his wife Jessica, to Queen Latifah introducing it to a new generation of young people through her music. It’s simple and evocative, creating images of the most romantic lovers ever.

But Elizabeth Barrett Browning was not your typical heroine. The oldest of 12 children, she had poor health from her mid-teens onwards and became an invalid and a recluse by the time she was in her twenties. She was fiercely intelligent, but was forced to redirect all her passions into her poetry by a father who discouraged any type of romantic involvements for his children. She turned inward, hid away from the world. And she wrote.

It was her book, “Poems,” published when she was 36 and still unmarried, that brought the world to her doorstep. 31 year-old Robert Browning read it, fell in love with it, and wrote at length to Elizabeth, telling her just how much her work affected him. Arrangements were made for him to come visit her, and thus launched one of the most famous courtships in history. Browning was relentless in his affections, but Elizabeth was pragmatic. She couldn’t believe that a man as worldly and life-loving as Browning could possibly love someone not only older, but sickly as well, and she translated those doubts into her most famous collection of work, “Sonnets from the Portuguese.”

However, true love prevailed. Two years later, Browning convinced Elizabeth to marry him, and then whisked her away to Italy so they could be together. Though she was disinherited by her father, she spent the next fifteen years with Browning, bearing a son in 1849 and enjoying professional recognition by her peers, before dying in Robert’s arms in 1861. Some people say she gained so many years to her life because of the change in climate. I like to believe that finding a love such as theirs had a little something to do with it, too.

Doesn’t it sound like a story that could still be popular today? Gifted older artist gains younger admirer through her work. Or better yet, a lonely, plain woman is taught by the man who adores her that beauty lies within the soul, not in the perceptions of physical beauty in the world around them. Either way, it proves one thing. Stories such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s are timeless. They reach into our hearts now, and without a doubt, they will touch the hearts of our great-grandchildren.

Because you can’t deny the force of love.

I’ll admit, Elizabeth’s story is a very personal one to me, mainly because I identify with it in so many ways. I met my husband online in 1997, and we started a correspondence that we’ve often referred to as our Victorian courtship. Like Robert was to Elizabeth, he’s younger than me (by 3 years), he’s gregarious, and he taught me that life is about living, not hiding away. Best of all, he’s even British. ;)

So in the spirit of real life romance, I want to know what real life love stories have touched your heart. What figures from history make you smile and sigh, or wish you could have a similar experience?


Blogger Jennifer Y. said...

Welcome!! Great post!

A real life love story that has touched my heart is that of my parents. They met as children one year in elementary school. Then my dad's family moved away and he changed schools. Years later, when they were teenagers, they attended different schools, yet they happened to meet again one day at a ball field I believe. They had not seen each other since that year in elementary school. They began dating, got married right out of high school and have been married 33 years this April. This story touches me (not just because they are my parents), but because it almost seems like fate. They were separated yet somehow found their way back to each other and fell in love.

Figures from history that make me smile and sigh, or wish I could have a similar experience include:
The Brownings
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

2:20 AM  
Blogger Vivien Dean said...

Hey Jennifer!

I love the story of your parents! Those are the kinds of models I wish we could hold up for people who deny the force of love and commitment; they're living proof that it can work. As for fate, I'm a firm believer; I've had and heard of too many experiences that fall too firmly under fate's aegis.

10:36 AM  
Blogger A J Matthews said...

Welcome Vivien! :) I'm another newbie here at LS but I've been made to feel welcome from the very first.

I've always loved that tale of the Brownings, and it's so poignant that they found each other.

The real-life story which always hits me in the heart is that of my Irish great-great-grandparents on my mom's side. She was a Protestant from Ulster, he was a Catholic from what would later become the Republic. They met and fell in love, but such were the times, had either family found them together they would've been killed. They defied convention and eloped to England, and began a new life together. The rest is my family history :)

2:37 PM  
Blogger Vivien Dean said...

Everyone at LSB has been absolutely wonderful in making me feel at home! It's been a really great experience so far. :)

It's stories like your great-great-grandparents that make me love what we do. Even though we create these other characters in our heads, putting them through so much to get them together, it's hard to compare them to the real love stories that are already out there, inspiring us every single day. Those are the real romances, I think. The rest is just icing. :)

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Angel said...

I studied Elizabeth's work in English Comp last spring, and I must admit it is sad that 90% of my class thought it was written by a man, as if most of the men we know could have coined such a heartfelt phrase. ok.. so I'm not a big fan of men, I haven't found Mr. Right. but I'm sure he's out there somewhere, wondering where I am.

love that touches my heart, My mothers adoptive parents were married for 52 years, despite personality clashes (and boy were they clashing), the inability to have children, and their adoptive childrens respective issues with drugs, alcohol, and depression. They stood by each other, even though at times you'd swear they hated each other. Grams used to say Marriage is a partnership of give and take, you have to take the bad with the good, and give it all your heart. When granddad died suddenly of a stomach anuerizm (ok so I can't spell that word.) Gram told me it was all wrong, she was supposed to go first, I knew then she wouldn't last the year, and I was right, although they say it was cancer that killed her I believe with all of my heart it was a broken heart and the inability to go on without granddad. They faught as fiercely as they loved, and they taught me to fight for love.

That is what I want in this life, a husband who wants a partnership and a wife who isn't an ornament on his arm.

As for figures from history.. Grace Kelly and Prince Ranier will always have the ability to steal my breath away, they had found that something special. I see so many couples say I do, and even faster say I don't again. What ever happened to love, in sickness and in health, for better or worse, where is that now?


8:21 PM  
Blogger snowflake said...

A woman married her long-time sweetheart who is terminally ill (and in fact died a few days after their wedding) so that he could have that one wish fulfilled.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Tam said...

I first met my husband when I was 13. I knew then there was something special about him. He is 5 years older than I am. Life goes on we lost contact. We met back up when I was 21, he was 26. I was married, there was still a spark. The timing just wasn't right. I left the moved out of state lost contact again for 16 years this time. I came back to my home state, was back for 4 years before we ran into each other again. It was still there for us, neither one of us are married this time around. I was 40 and he was 45 then. We met in March and were married in December. We've been married for over 4 years now. I've never been happier. We share everything even our birthdays it happens to be the same day.

7:33 AM  

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